Working through several major New York department stores before crossing the Atlantic, the star of Channel 4’s hit documentary Liberty of London and confirmed Anglophile has just published his autobiography, At Liberty.
I live on my own in a rented two-bedroom Victorian cottage in a Marylebone mews. I moved from New York when I took the job at Liberty in 2008. My home is a difficult, narrow space with an open-plan kitchen, so I decided to cover every surface with the pictures and objects that I’ve accumulated from my years of travelling, buying and working in retail.
I love shopping and enjoy mixing up periods and styles, so there are French fireplace mirrors next to Indian carved sculptures and Arts and Crafts jugs. The floors are a patchwork of carpets from Moroccan, Chinese and Turkish bazaars. Outside my front door, I’ve put olive trees in 4ft-high pots from my local florist, Rosemary Livingstone.
A wooden totem pole made by the American folk artist Peter Ross, who runs a foundry in Garrison, New York. I bought it 30 years ago and it was the first real piece of decorative art I ever bought — it comes with me wherever I go. It looks like three inverted pyramids with a gold-leafed bow at the top and it’s an incredible conversation piece.
Best design shops
My favourites include The Modern Warehouse in Stratford, E9, for its fabulous Scandinavian furniture and lighting; Milk Concept Boutique in Shoreditch High Street for its unusual home accessories; House of Hackney, also in Shoreditch High Street, for crazy Miami jungle print cushions, and Gods Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, which is like an electric circus of colourful neon signs.
I go religiously to Golborne Road in Notting Hill every Saturday morning, too, as there is a string of good shops — Phoenix, Bazaar, Les Couilles du Chien, Arbon Interiors, Found and Vision, Kokon To Zai, plus vintage shops Clarke and Old Pony. If you go early enough, you’re almost always bound to find something special.
Most talented new designer
My favourite up-and-coming textile designer is ex-Royal College of Art graduate Kit Miles. His fabrics, cushions and wallpaper are unlike anything I’ve seen. He draws botanic and geometric motifs and turns them into rich and surreal patterns through his use of vibrant colour and his unusual sense of scale. Definitely one to watch.
My idea of luxury
Because I travel so much, my luxury would be owning a full set of Hermès luggage. I visited the Hermès Atelier outside Paris and spent the afternoon watching master craftsmen at work. Everything is still done by hand to an extremely high standard. Everything is bespoke, so it would cost tens of thousands of pounds, of course.
Highbury Crescent, all the way at the top of Highbury Fields. Most people don’t bother to go up that far, preferring to have barbecues by the pool at the bottom, but if you do venture up there, there’s this almost-hidden crescent of houses surrounded by greenery, which is a very calming place to go for a tranquil breather. If I’m feeling stressed, I can just sit there and feel my blood pressure coming down.
Favourite place to eat
Bob Bob Ricard in Upper James Street, W1. It has good food and a service where you simply press a button at your table to get a glass of champagne. I love its flamboyant interior — no surface is left unadorned, from the electric-blue leather train banquettes and printed wallpapers to the smoked-mirrored ceilings by the genius David Collins.
If you walk away from Columbia Road, passing Hackney City Farm on your left and carry on up Goldsmiths Row, you’ll hit Broadway Market, which is much cooler and more authentic than Columbia Road. This is where the locals go and it is crammed with little shops that have stalls spilling out on to the street. Bradburys at 79 Broadway Market for hardware is one of my favourites.
- At Liberty: from Rehab to the Front Row by Ed Burstell (Michael O’Mara, £20) is out now.
- Liberty in Fashion, a new exhibition exploring the history of Liberty as a fashion brand over 140 years, has just opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum at 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1.